Etiquette calligraphy Eric Kim


The notion of etiquette is actually very very interesting; it is typically a French word, which were little notes to keep people off the grass. Atachier (old French, “attach”) is the origin.

Typically speaking, etiquette is a form of social norms to keep society and people orderly. For example, if there was no etiquette of standing in line, there would be much more pandemonium and chaos, and people getting angry, thinking forms of justice.

Etiquette as a privilege?

In someways, etiquette is actually a form of showcasing your social privilege and rank. For example, the etiquette of where to place your forks and knives, is an offshoot of royalty. Then, the commoners who desire to feel more royal, adopt the social norms of the aristocracy, desiring to emulate them. And this is the thought:

If I follow the social norms of the elite, and royal aristocracy, perhaps I can also become elite and royalty.

But the question is this; does emulating the actions and behaviors of the elite, help aid you to become elite?

Confucianism, social etiquette in Japan and Korea

Two Asian countries in which etiquette are very very critical is Japan and South Korea. I will speak a little bit about the Japanese, and also the Korean, as I am Korean.

If you think about the history of Japan, it was all about piety towards the emperor. Also, social etiquette built order, ans this helped the Japanese build a very strong military.

For South Korea, which is heavily based on Confucianism, the notion of etiquette was towards building a harmonious social society structure. However, what was different in Confucian times, and now is that there were stronger forms of social stratification with Confucianism. In Confucianism, there was the king and royalty, the commoners, the workers, the peasants, and the slaves (serfs). South Korea today is kind of a strange mishmash of Christianity, Protestantism, evangelism, American western notions, and Confucianism. And, South Korea is now seen as a meritocracy:

The harder your kids study, the more intelligent they are, the higher grades they get, and the higher standardized test scores they get, they will ascend to the heights of society.

In South Korea the calculus is simple; the more book smart you are, the more elite you will become, the more wealth you will accumulate, and the more prestige and power you will have. And the interesting thing is actually in South Korea, it is not money for the sake of money; instead, money is simply seen as a form of success. And for Koreans, to become successful is the apex value. Money is simply a way to quantify your success.

Why many people hate the lack of etiquette from rich mainland Chinese people

In terms of social etiquette, I think commonly around the globe, people seem to disdain the rich mainland Chinese, who have “no class”, and don’t follow forms of social etiquette. For example, it is not really seen as a big deal to spit in public, yell and talk loudly, boss people around, not line up in queue, and take up space.

However, when I really really think about it, the rich noveau rich mainland Chinese are intelligent. They don’t have these western notions of “egalitarianism”— they see things more honestly. For example, in America, we put on the big show to treat service workers, waitresses in staffs with “respect.” However, for the rich mainland Chinese, they see social stratification clearly;

I am your superior, and you must serve me.

Therefore, they will keep abuse on service workers, shout at them, boss them around, demand much.

We are a product of our environment, and how we were raised

One of the greatest benefits of studying sociology, and thinking things more carte blanche is this:

Why is it that we follow these social norms, and how do these social norms restrict my own self?

For example, in America, shame culture is very strong. Also, there is a strange sense of fear of showing your genitalia to other people of the same sex; it is not a social norm for young boys to be naked around each other. However in South Korea, and Asia, it is not really a big deal. For example, in America, in locker rooms boys never get fully naked. And they also don’t take showers. In Asia, it is super common for guys to be naked around each other all the time, it is not a big deal.

Also, America has very strange notions when it comes to homophobia, and also norms when it comes to clothing. For example, why is it that women could wear tight leggings, and show off their boobs, but guys are not allowed to show their crotch or balls bulge? I have yet seen any guys wear only compression leggings tights or shorts at the gym, without any shorts or clothing to hide their junk.

In America, typically speaking, it is only homosexual men who are allowed to wear more “feminine“ clothing. The closest trend we had in the early 2000s was the notion of the “metrosexual“, now it seems like the trend is towards “trans-sexual, trans-gender”, or no gender — more towards a type of androgyny.

Why I always stand in the first class line at the airport, even though I always fly economy

A simple life hack I have discovered when traveling, abroad or even in the states:

I always stand in the priority or first class line, even though I always fly economy.

Why is this? The life hack I discovered is that even though you may have an economy ticket, if you stand in the first class line, and you are able to finesse the attendant working there, typically they will turn a blind eye and just process you quickly. The only reason people don’t do this is the shame or the fear of being called out. However, the best way to become more successful is to become more shameless.

If you actually do get called out, you can just beg them to “help you this one time“, or make up some fake excuse. Or you could say it is because “your kid is crying and not doing well”. This takes balls. But it is totally worth it, I think my hit rate is around 90%.

Then I have discovered that it is all about confidence, standing upright, and acting like the boss, and walking around like you’re super rich. Like Cindy said, rich people walk differently.

Even if you think about the Justin Timberlake film “in time”, you can differentiate the rich people and the poor people by how quickly or slowly they walked. They’re really really rich people with all the time on their hands, walked very slowly. The poor were always running around, because they had no time.

Should you follow social etiquette?

It depends. I think if you want to win, and not be a sucker, you should disregard all social etiquette within the bounds of legality. Because there’s a difference between what is legal, and what is considered etiquette or “proper behavior“.

For example, if you’re a woman, it is illegal to walk around outdoors topless. However if your man, it is not illegal for you to walk around in public without a shirt on.

However there is funny nuances; as a woman, you could actually walk around with a sports bra, walk around with a bra, or walk around with a transparent shirt, showing off your nipples through your shirt.

Also, I believe it is illegal for a man to walk around in public without pants on. However, in theory you could walk around in public with a speedo, or even your boxers.

What is tricky is the difference between private places, and public places. Private places, the shopping mall, etc., can institute arbitrary rules for clothing. However if you’re in public, you have a lot more freedom.

Live more boldly

I don’t think this: if your goal is to maximize your greatness in life, in your personal advancement, I say ignore all social etiquette within the bounds of legality, just don’t break the law, but become more socially reckless.



selfie ERIC KIM talking vlog

Your Own Personal Code of Ethics

  2. Ignorance Takes Courage
  4. Don’t give people what they want or what you *think* they want, give them what you think they *should* have.
  5. Anti Small
  6. Disdain or Admiration?
  7. Beware Those With Good Intentions
  11. The Motive of Criticism
  12. Ethics are Social
  13. Anti Role Models
  14. What is Greed?
  15. On Having the Courage to Make Your Own Decisions
  16. How *NOT* to Get Duped or Suckered
  17. Why Help Others?
  18. The Duty of the Strong
  19. Why I’m So Intolerant Towards Intolerance
  20. The Ethics of Criticizing Others
  21. Consult Your Own Conscience
  22. The Ethics of Shit Talking
  23. The Ethics of Personal Enrichment
  24. I’m Easily Distracted
  25. On Forming Your Own Opinion
  26. ERIC KIM Philosophy of Tolerance
  27. Tolerance
  28. Aesthetics are Ethics
  29. Morality and Ethics
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